Edgar Wright is one of the few modern filmmakers than can be considered an auteur. His films all carry a very distinctive style, as recognizable as a Tarantino or Wes Anderson film. The director has also been picking his projects very carefully, making sure he’s not making films for the sake of making.
Baby Driver is Wright’s latest film, and it’s the story of a getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort). Baby is employed by Doc (Kevin Spacey) to do various jobs for crooks (the likes of which are played by Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Bernthal). Baby is in debt to Doc, but when he meets and falls for a waitress named Debora (Lily James), he’s smitten by the urge to run away with her.
As with all Wright films, the dialogue and editing is incredibly rat-a-tat, and this gives the film an incredibly smooth flow that never once tempts you to look down at your watch. The car chase scenes are exhilarating, making your heart pump as fast as the characters’, and the soundtrack is bound to have you nodding to the beat. Wright is also able to keep his overarching storyline simple enough, but this is a risk that can go terribly wrong with many movies; if you don’t have the right cast your characters might end up too simplistic and boring. However, Wright was lucky enough to have been given an incredibly talented cast.
Little could go wrong with a cast like this. Jamie Foxx frequently steals scenes by himself, and Jon Hamm gives an incredible performance that seemed to come out of nowhere, he and Eiza Gonzales (who plays his partner in crime and romantic partner) have an electric chemistry. Spacey as always is domineering, and Lily James as charming as ever. But the problem I had was with Ansel Elgort.
I enjoyed Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars, he was clearly the only actor to play the role of Augustus Waters in that film; but with Baby Driver you feel like his acting range is stretched to the limit, and Baby is portrayed as too bland and plain by him. It makes Baby, who is written as such a unique character, all the more boring. A much more electric actor could have pulled off a more pent up and reserved character with more intrigue.
Having also come out right after Wonder Woman made Baby Driver’s female characters seem incredibly underwritten and objectified. The bar is set low in Hollywood in terms of sexism, but not that low.
But apart from the behind-the-times portrayal of the women, and the miscasting of Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver is one heck of a fun movie, and certainly amongst the best that will come out this summer.